You’re A Grand Old Flag!

Today is Flag Day in the United States. On this day, in 1777, the Second Continental Congress of the United States adopted (decided to officially use) the design of the American flag:

Resolved (It is decided), That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes (long lines), alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field (background), representing a new constellation (group of stars in the sky).

In 1916, 100 years ago this year, President Woodrow Wilson declared (officially announced) that today, June 14th, would be Flag Day, a day Americans should honor (give respect to) their flag. While it is not an official government holiday, there are many cities and towns that remember this day with parades and small celebrations.

I’ll celebrate Flag Day this year by introducing you to a popular song about the American flag, one most Americans still know (even if they don’t remember that today is Flag Day), George M. Cohan‘s “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

Cohan wrote the song as part of his 1906 musical, George Washington, Jr.  The words of the chorus (the main part of the song that repeats) are the most famous part of the song. They are:

You’re a grand (wonderful) old flag,
You’re a high-flying flag,
And forever in peace may you wave (move in the wind).
You’re the emblem (symbol) of the land I love,
The home of the free and the brave (courageous).
Ev’ry (poetic version of “every”) heart beats true
Under the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag (being too proud of something).
But should auld acquaintance be forgot*,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

* = This is a line from the popular song sung traditionally on New Year’s Eve, “Auld Lang Syne.” In the original song, it was meant as a question, “Should we really forget our old friends?” (The answer, of course, is no.)

Here’s a recording of the entire song by the great American actor, James Cagney, from a movie about the life of Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy, released in 1942. (The chorus begins at around 1:12 on the video.)

If you live outside of the U.S., does your country have a similar day to honor your flag?


Image credit: Wikipedia

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11 Responses to You’re A Grand Old Flag!

  1. Peter says:

    Hey Jeff ,

    Well , first of July is of a prominence to Canadians. It is called Canada day.
    Well , it was first named Dominian day ,in 1867 then ,in 1982, it was renamed ” Canada day.”
    Well , nowadays , people are more familiar with ” Canada day.”
    It is the name they associate with the enactment of constitution act in July 1 1867.
    Well , it is not necessarily the flag day in Canada.
    U know , when it comes to flag day in Cabada things get a bit fuzzy , blurry if u will.
    The problem is there was no official national Canadian flag not until 1962. In 1962 ,the serving prime minister “‘Lester B Pearson ” decided to do sth about it. Subsequently ,a committee formed to resolve the long standing issue of lack of a national Canadian flag at the time. Well, the talk is there were three designs submitted to the committee One of which was the current Canadian flag with a red field and one white square at the center In the middle of which there is this 9 or 11 pointed maple leaf
    Can’t remember weather it is 11 or 9.
    It is not the point
    The point is the official Canadian flag made its first appearance In 1965 when Jeff was just 2 years old.
    This is a fun fact !!!
    Canadian flag is yonger than Jeff

    How about that :))))))))

    A learning guide member


  2. emiliano says:

    No, Jeff, here in Spain we haven´t and what is worst there are lot of people that don´t
    like Spainsh flag at all and even they don´t put it in some official buildings despite it is
    obliged by the Spanish Constitutions laws.

    Every peace of land, Comunidades Autonomas, of the Spanish Nation have their own
    flags and some of them like Cataluña, Comunidad Vasca, Galicia or may be other
    prefers their own.

    Another people prefers the second republic flag instead of the official one, usually
    people that consider themselves like republicans or they feel not as a part of this
    country by their left ideas.

    So yes, Spain´s recent history it is very complicated, so scarcely you could see
    a Spanish flag in people´s houses.
    I haven´t it because some of my friends who feels themselves at the left could
    not visit me if I have one or could think I am like a Spanish / D.Trump person
    being strait to the right.

    Again, Spain is different.

    Thank you dear Jeff, a lot of time without seing you here, or not?

    My best to you my friend, just today is Cuca´s birthday and she is not at home
    any more, it is really very sad for me if I stop and think about how cruel could
    be life.
    Even more cruel are for other, so I couldn´t say anything like a complain.

    Life it is just what it is and not what we wish it could be.




  3. Thiago Messias says:


  4. Tania says:

    June26 was proclaimed as the Day of the National Flag of Romania in 1998, (yes, 1998),
    a symbol of the Romanian people’s fight for freedom.
    Being a recent decision of celebration, people do not use to celebrate it like an historical day.
    I think it is more a military celebration.

  5. Tania says:

    Thank you for this nice song and video.
    You told us in 2011 , English Cafe 299, about other patriotic songs such as
    To Arms in Dixi or Dixie, the National Anthem of the Confederate States of America,
    Yankee Doodle or Dandy.

    All the best for you,


  6. Dan says:

    Hello everybody

    Our flag, better known as the tricolor, celebrates its birthday January 7.

    It is formed by three vertical ribbons of green white and red.
    Esthetically it’s not that beautiful as the American one, but we love it.

    My second best flag that I love for what it represents is of course the American one.
    And I also love the Israel one….


  7. Mari Carmen says:

    Hello everyone

    Emiliano, as you said, there are several flags depending on the place, the ideology, the moment, or even the political system. In the XXth century, the oficial Spanish flag was changed several times. Two English speakers historians like Hugh Thomas and Ian Gibson, are experts who know about our recent History much more than most of the Spanish people, because they studied it with passion, which I think it is to be grateful for.

    Republicans wanted another flag, as they identified the red-and-yellow one with the Monarchy of king Alfonso XIII. My grandfather, a not-at-all fanatical but entirely convinced socialist republican who fighted calmy and bravely in Aragón in the Civil War till it ended (he lost a finger, and the war; he was a thoughtful loser) told me once that he thought it was a mistake that the flag was changed in the Second Republic. In any case, I don’t dislike the red, yellow and purple flag, but I don’t know why the First Republic had not changed the flag at the end of the XIXth century.

    After the Civil War, Franco added that sad, black and fascist eagle to the red and yellow flag.

    That’s all I have to say, bye for now

  8. emiliano says:

    Yes that´s true Mari Carmen, in fact I have read two books of Huh Thomas, one of them about the prologue of Civil War and the Civil War with it´s consequences.
    Along years the book was forbidden by the dictator but I could read it after his dead, very interesting.

    It is said that the Spanish Civil War has been described as not any war has been by lot of writers, dozens of books have been weitten, as it was like an essay of the Second World War.
    My father was a very young soldier, he was in Madrid and he could be a Republican fighter as he was doing his military service as a Republican´s soldier
    but he took a permiss to visit the girl who was going to be my mother.
    She was in a little village of Burgos and this land took part for the rebels against the legal govement in Madrid, so by chance my father has to be in this
    Franco´s coup d´etat being a cooker in the army.
    Nearly he was killed, but survived and that´s the reason I am here writing now.

    At my parent´s home we never talk about politic, I could say we were an apolitical family by all means.

    More or less the same like now except my daughters that they are once the gorwn up.


  9. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    In Brazil November 19th is the day of the flag. It is honored by Army, Navy. Air Force and schools where people sing the national hymn, put the flag up on the flagpole. We feel proud of our country and our flag, the symbol of the nation. Thanks Jeff for the opportunity, the good material posted.
    From Brazil

  10. emiliano says:

    By the way M.Carmen my two younger daugthers are close to Podemos party, not me as I am
    not close to none, if I am going to vote probably I will do for Ciudadanos, but
    I have not clear if I am going to vote or not as in fact I don´t like any of them.


  11. Mari Carmen says:

    Hi, Emiliano

    There is still one week until General Elections of 26th June to make the decision of voting or not and which party.

    I know for sure what party or parties I would not vote, but I am not much decisive about the other options.

    My neighbour told me that she watched on television the debate of politicians last Monday, but she is neither decided.


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